Kiwi in world-first graft surgery

MATT STEWART writes an article for the Dom Post on ground breaking bone graft surgery for Kiwi in Wellington Zoo, Ataahua, paraphrased below, please read Matt’s article at Stuff

Kiwi undergoes world-first surgery

In a world-first procedure, Ataahua, a North Island brown kiwi has undergone surgery at Wellington Zoo to bridge her broken beak using a bone graft from her rib.

Six vets performed the delicate two-hour procedure taking 20mm of bone from the anaesthetised six year-old kiwi’s rib and grafted it to her upper beak.

Ataahua’s beak, which broke in January, had healed badly because the two bone ends fused but did not bridge properly.

It is common for kiwi to suffer beak injuries when foraging, but usually they would die in the wild.

Zoo vet doctor Lisa Argilla said Ataahua probably broke her beak when startled while probing in the ground, probably twisting round causing her to snap her bill.

Ataahua also suffered months of multiple antibiotic-resistant infections on the ”dirty open wound,” Dr Argilla said.

Since January Ataahua has also sported a fixator – or surgical pin splint – to stabilise the fractured beak.

”Basically we needed to build a bridge, and the rib was that bridge,” Dr Argilla said.

However, Dr Argilla said the team had not foreseen how tough the rib bone would be to graft from.

Ataahua has been in the zoo’s intensive care unit for the past four months and has had her beak regularly flushed to keep it clean.

Ataahua faces another two months in intensive care followed by a further month in animal hospital.

It will be about six to eight weeks before the team know if the surgery has been a success and she will continue to be tube-fed a ”bug slurry” mix to prevent any probing that might re-break the beak.

Although optimistic she will make a full recovery, the zoo’s main concern is whether or not she will regain her sense of smell, which is crucial to finding food, and may have been affected by nerve damage around the beak suffered over the past months.

Songs of Little Spotted Kiwi Studied in Groundbreaking Research

The study of songs emitted by Little Spotted Kiwi conducted by Andrew Digby, Ben D. Bell, Paul D. Teal, reveal hitherto unknown behaviour

The new results prompt the question is enough research being carried out for our endangered native species ?

Please read the full article on Asian Scientist Magazine called “Kiwi Duets Are Sung In Perfect Harmony” By Tang Yew Chung (May 3, 2013) from which the below is taken…

‘… From studying their calls, the researchers made the surprising discovery that kiwis, which live in pairs and are thought to mate for life, sing in harmony with their mates by synchronizing their calls and having complementary call frequencies.

By calling together in harmony, a pair of male and female kiwis become more effective at repelling intruders than if they were to call alone. This is the first time such cooperation in frequency and time has been reported in bird “duets”.

The researchers also found that, contrary to what they previously believed, size differences between male and female kiwi are not the sole cause of the differences in the frequency, or pitch, of the calls the birds make.

“Instead, male and female kiwi appear to call for different reasons, with male kiwi using their calls for long-range purposes, such as defending their territory from other kiwi, and female birds using calls for close-range purposes, like staying in contact with their partners,” says Dr Andrew Digby, the lead author of the study published in Ibis, the world’s leading ornithological journal.

“Calls are an important part of kiwi conservation since they provide an inexpensive, efficient and non-invasive way to monitor these mysterious birds.”

“But, we actually understand very little about why kiwi call, and the calls of most kiwi species have never been studied, so this research is important for helping us gain a better understanding of one of our national icons.” …’

The following is the abstract from the researcher’s article in Ibis, the International Journal of Avian Science, as found on the Wiley online library

Vocal cooperation between the sexes in Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii

By Andrew Digby, Ben D. Bell, Paul D. Teal

ABSTRACT: Sexual call dimorphism in birds is usually associated with sexual size dimorphism. Departures from this relationship can be used to infer call function, but research into inter-sexual call differences, as with song function in general, has been restricted by a bias towards male passerines.

The nocturnal and flightless New Zealand kiwi (Apterygidae) are acoustically similar but taxonomically and ecologically very different from other birds, so provide a contrast in exploring avian call function and evolution. However, kiwi acoustic ecology is poorly understood, with the calls of only one of the five kiwi species spectrally described, and acoustic differences between the sexes virtually unknown.

We conducted the first bioacoustic study of Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii, and assessed sexual call dimorphism in this species. There were significant inter-sexual differences in call temporal and frequency characteristics that were not related to size dimorphism. Contribution to duets and variation in temporal structure with call context also differed between the sexes. We suggest that these differences indicate divergent call function, with male calls more suited for territory defence, and female calls for pair contact.

There was a striking lack of overlap in the frequency spectrum distributions of male and female calls, which was also unrelated to size and was further emphasized by the presence of formants in female calls. We propose that this provides evidence for inter-sexual acoustic cooperation in call frequency, of a type which to our knowledge has not previously been described in birds. This may result from selection for enhanced joint resource defence in kiwi.

Rare Brown Kiwi Hatchling Success After 34 Attempts!

Rare brown kiwi born near Tauranga  (UPDATE *)

Source: ONE News, Published: 6:26PM Sunday May 05, 2013

A lovely article about Kiwi breeding success after many failed attempts (although the editor missed a few mistakes that leave one scratching one’s head: mainly that although the article explains Maui is the mother Kiwi and Whetu is the father, “…trust staff [had] to intervene as Whetu was laying the egg…” – little wonder the staff had to intervene, Kiwi’s don’t work like that). Perhaps they had to assist with the incubation, particularly the hatching. Anyway who cares, this is great news, a brief scrape from the piece below but please got to the site for the full article!



“He’ll sit on the egg, but he’s just not doing the fun part,” Otanewainuku kiwi trust volunteer Bev Wilkinson said of Whetu the male partner of Maui. Both Whetu and Maui are captive-bred kiwi and were put into the forest to become a breeding pair. But out of 34 eggs laid by Maui, none were fertilised by dad Whetu until now.

The pair have managed to produce Otanewainuku Forest’s first baby kiwi in decades.

The chick will stay at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua for a while before being returned to the forest.

* Update

Article in Bay Of Plenty Times “Kiwi chick ends three decades of waiting” by Genevieve Helliwell published 4th May 2013 10:00 AM

The first kiwi chick to come from Bay conservation land in over three decades has hatched … After 35 unfertilised eggs from the only breeding pair of North Island brown kiwi in Otanewainuku forest, a kiwi named Pistachio hatched this week … The 50 to 60-day-old egg, from the forest’s only breeding pair of North Island brown kiwi Whetu and Maui, was uplifted from the nest on April 13 and checked by volunteer kiwi monitors Dave Edwards and Nigel Veale to see whether it was fertile or not …”They candle it, where they put a very strong torch under it, almost like a dodgy X-ray and from that you can see if it’s viable or not … and as you can imagine after 34 dud eggs they were shocked,” Mr Wells said.

Kiwi eggs hatch about 70-80 days after being laid.

In the 1980s, up to 50 kiwi were recorded calling in Otanewainuku forest but numbers dropped to only five by 2000.

Mr Wells said eight juvenile kiwi were being held at Cape Kidnappers and were due to be released in Otanewainuku forest some time this year. A number of other adult kiwi could be moved to the forest this year too, he said.

The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust was set up in 2002 with the vision of re-establishing a viable population of North Island brown kiwi and volunteers had succeeded in reducing pests and predators in the forest to very low levels…

Click here for the full article :

6 Kiwi relocated to Kahurangi Breeding Group

ALASTAIR PAULIN writes a very good and full report for the Nelson Mail on recent kiwi relocations to the Nelson area Kahurangi National Park and plans to extend the breeding capacity by creating a wild life corridor to other Kiwi populations all undertaken by FOF (Friends of Flora) with fundign from the Lotteries Commission, BNZ’s Kiwis for Kiwi programme and the World Wildlife Fund.

In Brief:

Three pairs of great spotted kiwi were successfully released into the Gridiron Creek catchment of Kahurangi National Park on Friday 22 March 2013 joining 12 kiwi previously relocated to the predator-controlled area three years ago. Last December the first chick was hatched in the location.

Over the next month, Friends of Flora (FOF) plans to relocate up to another 14 kiwi establishing enough genetic diversity for them to breed successfully. FOF also hopes kiwi will establish a corridor to another population of kiwi in the Cobb catchment area and breed with them.

The new population represents the first kiwi believed to be in the area in more than 25 years.

The relocation was honored with a waiata from Joy Shorroc, lending a respectful custodial air to the proceedings.

The relocation project cost about $60,000, FOF raised from donations and sponsorship from the Lotteries Commission, BNZ’s Kiwis for Kiwi programme and the World Wildlife Fund.

DOC’s Motueka area manager Martin Rodd said the release was testament to the more than 10 years of trapping work that FOF had done in the Flora as it showed the area was safe enough for breeding kiwi. About 95 per cent of kiwi chicks were predated in areas without pest control.

For more details on the relocation the plans and FOF in Alastairs very helpful report please click link below

Robin Toy

Drought in Far North Threatens Kiwi Population

Recent rain hoped to curb plight of dehydrated and hungry Kiwi.

Radio New Zealand News reports on local residents fears for their Kiwi.

During dry periods Kiwi leave the bush in search of water, risking the dangers of cats and dogs.

Brown kiwi chicks with Department of Conservation biologist Deidre Vercoe.

Brown kiwi chicks with Department of Conservation biologist Deidre Vercoe.

” Kerikeri resident Jill Smith says the hard ground also affects their ability to dig for food.”

Reports have come in that the nocturnal Kiwi “…birds are so hungry and thirsty, they are venturing into residential areas during daylight – especially when people have watered their lawns.

Ms Smith says she has even heard reports of kiwi being found inside people’s houses as they look for food, and the best thing to do is leave out a shallow dish of water for them.”

Please click for article

Kiwi Spotting in Hauraki Gulf Islands

In her recent article Catherine Smith writes for the NZ Herald of her time spent on an overnight kayak trip to the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf, four Islands in two days, with the comapany Auckland Sea Kayaks.

Catherine visited Motukorea (formerly known as Browns) Island, and stayed the night on Motuihe Island, where 40 little spotted Kiwi had been released on the predator-free island over the past two summers; Next day stopping first at Motutapu for lunch then Rangitoto for a swim.

But, Says Catherine: “The day’s perfect kayaking, a stunning campsite and a splendid meal had just paled into insignificance…” when she saw a Kiwi in the natural Island habitat.

Catherine explains, “Miracle. I will admit there were tears and unseemly teenage-like “OMG, OMGs”. ”

For Catherine’s full article go to

Salient points:

• Auckland Sea Kayaks’ island-hopping packages include day and sunset Rangitoto, half-day Motukorea and overnight tours from $135 to $365 a person, with all meals and gear provided. Bookings ph 0800 999 089

• Motuihe Trust

• 360 Discovery ferries run Wednesdays until March 27, and Sunday March 31. Go to

• Motutapu Restoration Trust runs volunteer planting days, with special Fullers Ferry fare. See or email for dates.


Could your dog kill a kiwi?

Even this cute dog can kill a kiwi

The answer is yes. Even this cute dog can kill a kiwi

Did you know the kiwi has no breastbone (sternum)?This means that any dog, even a small dog, could easily crush the bird’s ribcage, even if the dog is only trying to play.

If your dog picks up a kiwi gently or nuzzles it with its nose, the kiwi could be mortally injured and die.

DOC’s website “threats to kiwi” lists stoats, dogs, wild cats and ferrets in that order! In fact, dogs have surpassed stoats as the biggest killer of Kiwi in Northland.

If you own a dog, here’s what to do:


Surfer Paddles 350km for Maui’s Dolphin, Against Seabed Mining

Dave Rastovich, a Pro surfer, environmental campaigner and activist is visiting New Zealand to promote the safety of Maui’s Dolphin especially as they are threatened by seabed mining, his efforts are featured in an article by National & World News website which you can view here for their comprehensive coverage.

On Friday, 16th November Dave Rastovich (32, Byron Bay, NSW AUS), began a daunting 350km sea-paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha to draw awareness to the threatened stretch of coast and in support of “Kiwis Against Seabed Mining” (KASM). Rastovich’s route passes through the area where the proposed seabed mining is to occur. The area is the habitat of the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin, a species that now faces risk of total extinction.

The epic journey incorporated education and awareness events culminating on Dec 1st. Rastovich’s remaining itinerary as of this writing : Wed 21- Fri 23rd paddle, paddle, paddle (meetings and engaging with local communities); Sat 24th – Raglan Info Event; 25th – 30th – paddle, paddle, paddle to South of Piha meetings and engaging with local communities); Sat 1st Dec – Piha Conclusion “Love Your Ocean Day!” Major day time event. Evening finale event at the Piha Bowls Club.

Proposals to mine the West Coast seabed are firmly opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organisations, including SEAFIC (The Seafood Industry Council), Sea Shepherd NZ, Project Jonah, Sustainable Coastlines, Mauis SOS, Greenpeace, WWF, Forest and Bird, and Surfbreak Protection Society.

Please join Dave Rastovich and take whatever measures you can to help protect NZ coast and seabed from oil mining, and protect the Maui’s Dolphin as they face extinction.

The Editor

Breeding plan aims to export Kiwi as pair released to 400h Farm.

This article by MATT BOWEN for Waikato Times via Stuff (please read Matt’s full article here) explains the hopes for increased diversity in Western Brown Kiwi.

“…Two kiwis are released at Maungatautari Ecological Island as part of a breeding programme to increase the endangered birds gene diverstity and population…”

“…Blackbean and Bluegrass, two kiwi chicks taken from wild Waimarino Forest near Ohakune, were released at the “keyhole” on Bill and Sue Garland’s 400-hectare Rahiri Farm, which rises up the mountain’s western flank to the predator-proof fence…”

Here’s to everyone involved in the efforts to increase the bio-diversity and the population of the western brown kiwi!!!

The Editor

Also at Kiwiman Comics